Police officers marooned by floods
Bermuda suffered another near-record month of precipitation after almost ten inches of rain was dumped on the Island in September.
The Bermuda Weather Services said that 9.76 inches of rain had fallen during the month up to yesterday morning — almost double the monthly average of 5.09 inches and just short of the record 11.15 inches, which was recorded in 1983. Although the figure includes yesterday morning's downpour when 0.41 inches was recorded, a final figure for the month will not be available until later today.
August was also a washout, with 10.43 inches of rain falling in the month — more than double the average of 5.15 inches. August's total was also close to the record, set in 1997 when 12.23 inches fell.
One weather record was broken last month. Last Thursday's thunderstorms delivered 4.10 inches of rain to Bermuda, the highest amount of rain in a single September day ever recorded.
Yesterday morning's deluge brought chaos to commuter traffic coming into Hamilton for the start of the working week, with many routes flooded.
Despite the treacherous conditions, police reported only one traffic incident in which two police officers were marooned after driving their patrol car through a heavily flooded road in Pembroke.
The incident took place shortly before 9am on Bakery Lane when officers attempted to navigate a stretch of the road — which is notorious for becoming flooded during heavy rains — and stalled midway across the hazard.
Photographs suggest the water was more than two feet deep at the point where the car was brought to a halt. The officers were forced to clamber out and wade through the temporary lake to safety.
A police spokesman said: “Clearly today's incident was an error of judgment by the individuals involved. From a welfare perspective, both officers are fine and the vehicle was extracted by police garage staff and taken to the police compound at Prospect where it will be fully evaluated to ascertain damage.
“An internal police investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
It is not known if the car was responding to an emergency 911 call when it encountered the obstruction.
The spokesman also reminded motorists to adapt their driving habits to the conditions.
“Bermuda has experienced a tremendous amount of rain in the last few weeks and as we may expect more rain in the future we are advising the motoring public to take the appropriate precautions,” the spokesman said.
Drivers are being urged to avoid areas that are prone to flooding, keep an appropriate distance of at least two car lengths between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead of them, and to allow more time to complete their journey, particularly when heading into Hamilton.
“We would suggest that the motoring public leave their residents earlier in order to ensure that they are not caught up in traffic,” the spokesman said.
“When it rains, motorists tends to take a lot more caution on the roads and as a result, there is a lot more gridlock, particularly heading into the city in the morning.”
Bermuda Weather Service deputy director James Dodgson said there were a number of potential causes for the large amounts of rainfall, including a less active hurricane season.
“With the tropical season being noticeably less active this year, a lot of heat energy trapped in the ocean has not been transferred into tropical storms and hurricanes as it normally would be,” Mr Dodgson said.
“Therefore, when we get areas of low pressure — rising air — developing nearby, the extra energy from the ocean helps to intensify the precipitation in our associated weather systems. This leads to the heavy and often thundery rainfall events we have been experiencing over the last couple of months.”
He added that the position of the Bermuda-Azores ridge of high pressure has been anchored in “a slightly unusual place”, reducing its influence on Island weather systems.
“Instead of the typical west to east alignment across the sub-tropical Atlantic, it has quite often been anchored more southwest to northeast,” he said
“This has led to the Bermuda-Azores high not being as dominant as usual across our area. The direct impact of the this has been for more tropical moisture, or rainfall, to be steered over our area than normal.”
And “troughing” in the upper levels of the atmosphere off the US east coast had created perfect conditions for low pressure systems and thunderstorms to develop.